The men who plotted and carried out the 2011 murder of B.C. gangster Jonathan Bacon were expressionless as they pleaded guilty to their crimes Tuesday, putting an end to a lengthy trial mired in red tape.
Jason McBride was one of two gunmen who masked his face and charged toward a Porsche Cayenne Aug. 14, 2011 while firing an AK47-style gun, said Crown counsel Dave Ruse, reading from the statement of fact.
Within the Porsche were members of the drug dealing gang, the “Wolf Pack,” which included Larry Amero, who was driving, Bacon was in the front passenger seat and James Riach was in a back seat. They were with companions, Leah Hadden-Watts and Lyndsey Black.
McBride, who was seen in video footage shown in court can be seen approaching the Cayenne in white sneakers, was with now-deceased Manny Hairan, who shot the car with a glock-style gun, while people walking dogs, children and elderly hotel guests ran for cover.
“It is difficult to imagine a more public place to attempt this murder than the entranceway of a large resort hotel in a tourist city in the middle of summer on a sunny Sunday,” said Ruse, describing the scene.
Forensic evidence presented in the trial showed that 45 bullet cartridges were found at the scene, 34 of which cut through the Porsche. Two went into a salon beside the shooting and another was found in the Kelowna Art Gallery where children and parents were taking part in Family Day.
Those bullets fatally sliced through Bacon, left Amero without the use of an arm and paralyzed Hadden-Watts. Riach escaped without injury and Black has healed from wounds to her legs.
Michael Jones was in the driver side of the getaway vehicle, said Ruse, and Jujhar Khun Khun conspired to weaponize the men after plotting out the movements of their targets, the “Wolf Pack.”
For committing second degree murder, Crown counsel along with defence reccomended that McBride get the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, with eligibility to apply for parole at 18 years. All three men were arrested Feb. 22, 2013 and served five years and two months, to date, that will be applied to their sentence.
Khun-Khun and Jones are facing sentences of 18 years apiece for conspiring to murder Bacon and company. Khun Kuhn will be credited for eight years and two months of time served and Jones will be credited with five.
Inmates can apply for parole after serving a third of their sentence then they get statutory release at the two thirds mark. Ruse has requested that Jones and Khun Khun be forced to serve half of their remaining ten year sentences.
In all, it appears to be a somewhat insignificant end to a significant event — the optics of which were not lost on Ruse.
“The joint proposal was the culmination of extensive discussions between Crown and defence and considerable reflection of the Crown on the strengths and weaknesses of the case, as well as the public interest,” said Ruse.
Much of Crown counsel’s case was reliant on testimony from unsavoury witnesses, and that has caused a number of challenges, the most significant of which being delays.
“From the Crown’s perspective the primary consideration is the delay in completing this trial,” said Ruse. “The adjournment of this trial to accommodate disclosure of the witness protection programs was reaching the eight month mark. The Crown is not criticizing the work of the Attorney General of Canada. They worked diligently to assist the efforts of the court, however in spite of their efforts a significant delay has occurred to a trial that has already taken a log time to complete.”
In pleading guilty the accused gave up their rights to be charged on the merits of the charges.
“Significantly they gave up rights to forward charter arguments on delay,” said Ruse. “The resolution will be final.”
A judgement will be released on Wednesday.
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